The US State Department thanked India for offering refuge to the Dalai Lama and Tibetans since the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959, as part of their wishes for the Dalai Lama on his birthday.
On Monday, 6 July, the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs tweeted:
"“Happy 85th birthday to His Holiness @DalaiLama, who has inspired the world through his peace & kindness, and as a symbol of the struggle for Tibetans and their heritage. We thank India for hosting His Holiness and Tibetans in freedom since 1959 and wish His Holiness happiness.”"
Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama, and thousands of Tibetans fled the country, with India offering them refuge. The Tibetan government in exile, of which the Dalai Lama is the spiritual head, is based in Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama resides.
The US’ wishes for the Dalai Lama come at a time of tensions with China for both India and the US. On Monday, the Lieutenant-Governor of Ladakh RK Mathur pointedly wished the Dalai Lama, and said that “In these difficult times, his spiritual leadership gives strength”.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju also wished the Buddhist spiritual leader, as did BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav and several other BJP leaders. India’s messaging on the occasion was being closely watched given China’s touchiness on the subject of Tibet, and the hostilities between India and China over the LAC.
The US has been having its own tensions with China, from President Donald Trump’s regular salvos at the country on Twitter, to the trade war between the two countries.
However, instead of Trump, it was the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (a Democrat), who made the most pointed remarks about China on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s birthday.
Pelosi said that the Dalai Lama is a “messenger of hope”, and that his spiritual guidance was vital for promoting religious harmony, securing human rights and preserving the language and culture of the Tibetan people, PTI reported.
She also said that the “aspirations of HIs Holiness and the Tibetan people remain fulfilled as the oppressive Chinese regime continues its disgraceful campaign of persecution”, according to PTI. In her statement, she went on to point out that the US Congress had passed the Tibet Policy and Support Act, defending the rights of Tibetans to practise their Buddhist faith, speak their language and follow their customs. This is a key issue when it comes to selecting the successor to the current Dalai Lama, which China seeks to interfere in.
Reiterating America’s opposition to Beijing’s aggression towards Tibet, the persecution of the Uighur people, and the recent introduction of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, PTI reports that Pelosi went on to say:
"“May this next year bring His Holiness The Dalai Lama, the people of Tibet and all those working to advance freedom in China and around the world a future of peace, security and prosperity for all.”"
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